You may have noticed that your coolest friends are suddenly absent. This is because those in the know are in Ciudad de México, aka CDMX, aka Mexico City. Artists, intellectuals and tastemakers – the modern Frida Kahlos, Diego Riveras and Leon Trotskys – are currently flocking to Mexico’s sprawling capital in search of a vibrant and affordable lifestyle.
In short, there is no busier big city in the world right now. So we asked insiders to share their hottest spots, from restaurants to boutiques, galleries to hotels.
carry to go
“There’s so much respect for the culture of craftsmanship here,” said Olivia Villani, a fashion designer, who started chava womenswear in 2020 after moving from New York with her Mexican husband, and opened an invitation-only atelier last summer.
“There’s an energy to the city that feels particularly alive right now,” she added.
His favorite places include scarringa funky cafe run by ex-New Yorkers Jake & Scarlett Lindeman (try the roasted carrots) a short walk from the city’s Centro and laid-back late-night spot Paramo in the artistic district of Roma Norte. While you’re at it, stop by Hugo El Wine Bara more recent spot, specializing in natural wines.
“It’s one of those places where you invariably run into someone you know and end up joining the tables. It’s the best,” she exclaims.
But she also recommends having a cocktail at the bar of the most chic hotel in town, the Four Seasons. “It’s a scene – editors, artists, creatives. I always recommend it to friends visiting the city,” she said.
Wherever you drink, hunt down mezcal made by the all-female team at yolaor the very first Mexican whiskey, Abasolo; the latter’s open-air distillery, about an hour from CDMX, has just started offering tasting tours to the public.
“It’s just above Enrique Olvera’s Ticuchi bar, which serves great food,” she said. “It’s very well located and super beautiful.”
An old gay time
CDMX-born PR powerhouse Adolfo Lopez Serrano Reyes, who owns Basic agency, lived all over the world before being drawn home. Unlike its former home, Berlin, this city retains one more powerful asset than any other: affordability.
“It’s one of the last livable world capitals for artists and creatives,” he said.
It also encourages immigration, which adds texture, richness and often unexpected delights – like Mama Park’s Dooriban at Doctores, a restaurant started by a Mexican-Korean vet and her partner when the pandemic clipped hospitality’s wings. They started cooking kimchi at home, using family recipes, and it was so popular that they just opened a permanent location a few weeks ago.
CDMX has long had a thriving LGBTQ+ scene that shares the same neighborhood as the Korean community, Colonia Juarez, specifically the so-called Zona Rosa.
“He’s been very progressive, historically, including the adoption of marriage equality over a decade ago,” Reyes said.
He recommends taking a look at the new cafe, bar and plant shop mashup, Cafe Pacifico or dance at Centro’s La Purisima, “an almost abandoned queer dive bar displaying religious iconography and provocative neon signs as decoration.” For more gay fun, there’s the traveling party Pervert and the hottest Technomen – check their social media for the next date and location.
But at OD on Art, he suggests visiting during the Zona Maco art fair, when the city’s cultural scene is at its liveliest, especially after last year’s pandemic edition. At the beginning of February, he will transform the city, alongside other pop-ups like his client Cosa Loungea purchasable assortment in the best of contemporary design.
State of the art
Age Salajõe, of Estonian descent, co-founded the traveling gallery massah three years ago, and it’s quickly become CDMX’s coolest cultural asset. It’s the spirit of collaboration that sets Mexico City apart, she said.
“If you have great ideas, people are excited to connect – art, fashion, design – everyone is united,” she said.
Nothing embodies this better than the upcoming opening THE GIRLFRIEND: OMR Gallery has co-opted the groovy modernist building on a lake in the Chapultepec Forest that was once a beachfront restaurant and will soon restart it as a public art center, complete with a cocktail bar, restaurant and a workshop space.
Fusion restaurant with Thai and Peruvian influences Choza at Roma Norte is another standout – try the green mango salad; there is a huge collection of vinyl music which forms the backdrop to most parties.
“It doesn’t become a party but you don’t have to go to a club,” Salajõe said. Have “the best comedy breakfast” at Maiz Sin Number Expendioand treat yourself to some classic Italian at the new Polpoco-owned by the chef trained by Massimo Botttura, Marco Carboni.
On the shopping side, pilgrimage to the micro-boutique by appointment run by curator, writer and unofficial CDMX freshness Pied Piper Su Wu, Casa Ahorita (“The House of Now-ish”) – check his Insta for updates.
Came and take it
“The creative arts scene is small, but it’s getting bigger, so you can get big very quickly,” said the Mexico City-born photographer. Ana Hop.
She suggests taking a snapshot of what’s hot by strolling down Calle Havre, the leafy pedestrian street in the heart of Colonia Juarez that’s lined with trendy restaurants, shops and bars. For example, stop at men’s clothing made in Mexico at Casa Caballeria and snack all day Coffee Ninled by celebrity chef Elena Reygadas — the croissants are the height of Paris.
“It’s in a house, so it’s very cozy, not like a huge restaurant — and you can meet people too,” Hop said.
She also devotes herself to breakfasts at Niddoa Middle Eastern location that reflects the city’s long-standing diversity: dive into the kitchen to try a hard-hitting shakshuka in the small space.
“Chef Karen is Jewish but was born in Mexico,” she said. “This place is always full.”
Browse a world-class assortment of local and international magazines at the bookstore Casa BosqueHop’s favorite haunt. Casa Polancowhich opens in March, will also be a new can’t-miss crashpad: a 19-suite reboot of an aristocratic 1940s mansion in the heart of Tony Polanco.